Coen brothers’ spoof still cuts the fog

“Is regular clean clean enough for your family? Not when you can have clean coal clean,” says the pitchman.

Culture jamming

In a media environment where multinational conglomerates pump out a steady toxic stream of dumb-and-dumber entertainment and corporate propaganda, culture jamming is one of the best ways to help get attention for the truth.

As the merry pranksters at Adbusters have shown, just one fake ad has the power to debunk dozens or even hundreds of real ones. Even when you don’t agree with the message, well made fake ads are always great fun.

Perhaps because its name is so tantalizing, clean coal has inspired some of the best ad spoofs of recent years. And clean coal deserves the attention, since it’s one of the most bogus of the demonstration-stage technologies that claim to make nasty things great but that in real life always seem to be twenty years away.

Thirty seconds that kill clean coal

Among spoof ads “Clean Coal Clean” stands out because it was made for the Alliance for Climate protection by Hollywood’s Coen brothers, which helps explain how it can say so much in only thirty seconds.

And in its elegance, the spot is a good demonstration of some of the lessons for communicating peak oil found in our current series inspired by the Coens’ 2000 cult film  O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The spoof ad came out in 2009, but it’s still one of the best send-ups of a coal industry campaign that isn’t going away anytime soon. The spot is so funny you’ll want to watch it again and again. You’ll also want to watch the two-minute piece on how and why it was made, “Behind the Scenes of ‘Clean Coal Clean.'”

Then you’ll want to tell your family and friends that clean coal is totally bunk.

— Transition Voice

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